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Kimberley Families

The Hedley MacLeod Family

Hedley MacLeod hailed from Prince Edward Island. He and two brothers came out to Vancouver in 1904. They did some beach combing by picking up stray logs and hauling them to a sawmill. A little later, he and another man ran an independent sawmill at Wattsberg (Lumberton) near Cranbrook. They cut railway ties, but due to unfortunate circumstances they went broke. He briefly worked for the Fink Mercantile in Cranbrook before coming to Kimberley.

Grace Bell, from Kincardine, Ontario came west to Cranbrook in 1909 to work as a stenographer for the real estate firm of Beale and Elwell. Grace and Hedley were married in 1911. A son Donald was born in 1912 and Reginald (Reg) arrived in 1913 just about the time his brother Donald died. Two more boys, Murray and Burton were born in 1915 and 1918. A daughter Betty was born in 1925.

Hedley came to Kimberley in 1915 and worked at the Top Mine for three months. For the next few years he ran a jitney between Cranbrook and Kimberley, beginning with a team of horses and a democrat. He had five horses and kept one team at Wycliffe, the halfway stop between the two towns. He slowly graduated to a Ford, then an eighteen passenger 1911 Buick, which he named the "Toonerville Trolley". It was an open-air bus with the steps up the back, and the passengers faced one another along the sides. He also bought a Cadillac from Harry Drew that was especially built. He purchased a second Buick, and this one had tiered seats so the passengers at the back could see over the heads of the people in front. Unfortunately the big bus burned up just outside Kimberley at Black Bear bridge. He also owned a Hudson Super Six that could travel fifty miles an hour, a fantastic speed in those days. As there were no service stations as yet, Mr. MacLeod ordered his gas in fifty-gallon drums.

Their home was a tall two-story house on Deer Park Avenue which was a winding road that followed a small creek flowing down from what is now Morrison Subdivision. The house had once been a store and post office in the very early days. Next door was a similar building that had once been the town jail. It had no cells but one room had four iron rings imbedded in the floor in each corner, where prisoners were fastened.

There were four other two-story houses just beyond the Company offices where the old school used to stand. These houses had been originally built in Moyie and when the St. Eugene Mine closed down, they were moved to Kimberley on C.P.R. flat cars, in sections. They were occupied by the Company officials, Seaton, Burdett, Lindsay and Montgomery.

Hedley MacLeod died in 1936 and Grace lived until 1968.

Reg has many memories of growing up in Kimberley. Mrs. Wells taught Sunday School and he remembers once getting a prize for drawing a dog. Mr. Doubleday was his first teacher. Reg was only five, but was allowed to attend school so as to make up the quota, thus warrenting a permanent teacher. He attended one term in the Ontario Hotel while a new school was being built. A Miss Fox was one of the teachers and a Mr. Panabaker, the minister were boarders at the MacLeods.

In those days almost everyone kept chickens and a few families had horses and a cow or two.

The only manufactured toy Reg ever owned was a model of a Ford car which his father received when he bought a new Ford. He remembers playing in the clay bank in the back yard where he built roads for his new model car. All other toys were homemade.

Like all boys, the MacLeod brothers were always on the lookout for a good swimming hole. One day they decided to make a pool big enough to swim in the Mark Creek. There were several teams of horses making a road bed near by and one of the teamsters, using a fresno scraper decided to give the boys a hand. He gouged out the gravel from one side of the creek to make a nice swimming area, but the water was always very cold.

Reg Macleod.

Sometimes they would hike the four miles to Marysville, stash their clothes under the bridge that spanned Mark Creek and with only their swim suits on, they would follow the path past the falls to the old smelter site on St. Marys River. They would swim the five miles to the bridge at Wycliffe and wait until Mr. MacLeod came from Cranbrook in the jitney and catch a ride home, with a quick stop at Marysville to retrieve their clothes.

Another favorite swimming hole was up the creek near the Stemwinder Mine. At the foot of the dam was a nice deep pool. The men at the mine sometimes threw nickels in and watched the boys dive for them. One day a fifty cent piece was thrown far out into the deepest spot, and there was no way it could be reached by ordinary diving. Reg got the bright idea of holding a heavy rock to weigh him down, but by the time he reached bottom he had to let go without retrieving the coin and hurry to the surface. It seemed a long, long way down.

The community got together and had a small concrete pool built, but they had neglected to purchase the land. A Mr. J. P. Johnson bought the property and drained the pool which made a nice sized basement for his new home.

Mrs. MacLeod played the piano and her home was the gathering place for parties and sing-songs. The K. P. Hall had been built right next door, so after a dance, friends would keep the festivities going at the MacLeods until the wee hours of the morning.

The one incident Reg recalls about the forest fire of 1919, was their evacuation to Marysville, where they stayed with the Keer family. Before they left, Reg and his brother overheard their dad say he had bought a box of twenty-four chocolate bars and put them in the kitchen cupboard. The boys hiked from Marysville to get the chocolate bars. Their dad was busy putting out spot fires on the roof and when he saw the boys back in the danger area, they were read the riot act in no uncertain terms.

Young Burton was killed in a car accident in 1935, along with Jimmy Shea, Johnny Wirth was badly crippled in the same accident. Murray was killed in 1963 in a mine accident. In 1950, Reg was in a serious accident underground when he was barring down rock where the new crushing plant was being constructed. He was badly crushed when a slab of rock broke loose. One arm and a leg and some ribs were broken. Encased in a cast that covered most of his body, he spent a year in the compensation clinic in Vancouver. After the cast was finally removed, he had to undergo several operations on his hand to repair torn ligaments. On his return to Kimberley, he went to work at the open pit at the Top Mine. He was given the use of a truck to drive to and from work, but his persistence in forcing himself to walk as much as possible paid off eventually.

Reg worked for Connors Diamond Drilling which kept him travelling all over the country for several years. Once during the depression, he got a job on Coulee dam in Washington State. About three hundred young Canadians were escorted back to the Canadian border because they were taking jobs away from the Americans. No charges were laid, they were just asked to stay in Canada.

Reg was working in Michel and boarding with John Ruud whose sister, Molly was also boarding there. She was from Beechy, Saskatchewan but working for Trites Woods Company. Reg and Molly were married in 1948. A son Larry was born after they returned to live in Kimberley. Reg is retired and living only a block from where his first home stood. It was torn down to make room for a modern dental clinic. The house in which he lives was once part of Mrs. Caldwell's store. Dr. Dorman, a dentist, had it moved to its present location. The MacLeod's have remodelled it.

Reg loves woodworking and has made it his hobby since retiring.

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